SEVERAL Indian crew members have been taken by Somali pirates after local security forces were only able to rescue their hijacked cargo dhow on Monday.
Eleven crew members of the Al Kausar were taken hostage by the pirates, who said they would be kept as bargaining chips in a push to free some 117 pirates jailed in India.
“We attacked the Indian ship and rescued it but the pirates took away the 11 crew. We rescued two crew and they went with nine crew into the hilly areas between El Hur and Hardheere,” Mohamed Hashi Arabey, vice president of Galmudug state, told Reuters.
The incident is the latest in hijackings by Somali pirates, who have re-emerged after years of no reported attacks. This month has seen a ship rescued by Indian and Chinese security forces, while two ships remain in the possession of pirates.
Piracy off the Somali coast has threatened international shipping routes since the early 2000s. In 2012, piracy activity peaked with 237 reported incidents however it declined significantly after international naval patrols were implemented and ship owners strengthened security measures.
According to a report by Oceans Beyond Piracy, piracy was estimated to cost up to US$6.9 billion in global trade during 2011.
Local authorities in Somalia recently issued permits allowing foreign fishermen to operate in the country’s waters, which has reportedly spurred the latest attacks.
Somalia’s government has been grappling to maintain stability after 25 years of conflict.
The United Nations has previously stated that illegal fishing by foreign vessels during the Somali civil war provided impetus for Somali fishermen to become pirates by depriving them of their livelihoods.